Northern rivers people are being invited to take part in a candle walk this evening to mourn the loss of lives in the Orlando gay nightclub shooting.
People are being asked to bring candles or flashlights and gather at the corner of Molesworth and Woodlark Streets at 5pm for the walk.
Forty nine people died and more than 50 were injured when the shooter Omar Mateen stormed the Pulse nightclub with an assault rifle he had purchased in the weeks before the massacre.
A small group of people gathered in Lismore on Monday, but organisers of this evening’s event are hoping for a large turn out, especially from members of the gay community.
Tropical Fruits secretary Ken Beilby described the mass shooting as devastating and pointed out that it could happen anywhere.
‘It just so happens that last Saturday night was the Tropical Fruits Queens birthday party and we were gathered in mass to celebrate our culture and identity and then hearing the news from Orlando really brought a stark reality of….this could have happened to us,’ he told ABC radio.
‘While we are different countries and there’s a lot less hand guns in Australia, it’s still a fear because of the underlying non acceptance, in some quarters hatred, we still feel that we can’t be who we are out in public.’
Mr Beilby says there needs to be greater acceptance by letting go of stereotypes and educating from an early age.
He said the shooting had given many people a reason to reflect on the ongoing battle against discrimination, both overt and subtle.
‘We thought that progress had been made and there was acceptance and we were getting rid of discrimination and then an event like this occurs and it’s just devastating….it feels like we are second class citizens…and we don’t feel safe,’ he said.